Friday, December 28, 2007

"1940s Radio Hour" in Boulder

Though the Boulder production differed from last year's Fine Arts Center production in many respects, they were remarkably comparable in quality. The women were a slightly better here; the men were slightly better in Boulder. (Scott Beyette as the comic Neal was outstanding.) I preferred Boulder's thrust stage, because it puts the audience closer to the actors, and this semi-chaotic show doesn't really benefit from the framing of a proscenium stage. The band here was better, but the band in Boulder had the advantage of being unamplified (except for the string bass and the piano, which was electronic).

The show itself is as mystifying as ever. Why not do a simple revue of period songs? The wisps of story and characterization add little, while creating a very real challenge: For a revue, all you need is a bunch of excellent singers who maybe dance a little; "1940s Radio Hour" requires people who can sing, dance and act. The result - at least in these two productions - is a show about professional radio singers performed by people who mostly don't sing well enough to be professional radio singers. The dramatic gain from the nostalgic atmosphere doesn't counterbalance the almost-inevitable drop in vocal quality.


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